Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Simple South Indian Fish Curry. Make it in 60 Minutes For The Perfect Lunch or Dinner.

   With all the crap going on out in the world right now, frankly I haven't been much in the mood to write about food.  However, everyone's got to eat and I get a lot of relaxation out of cooking. It's almost a form of zen for me. So even though we may be consumed with the outside world, it's good and healthy to drop back a bit and feed yourself and your family  something delicious like this fish curry. Alan is now mainly eating a vegetarian diet, with the exception of fish, so I guess he's actually a pescetarian . Every couple of days I interrupt the vegetarian/vegan leanings and toss him a fish.  The guy has given up burgers after all. 

There are a lot of amazing fish dishes in the cuisine of South India, and many of them involve coconut, using either coconut milk, or ground coconut. This recipe uses plain ground coconut. One can use either fresh or frozen coconut meat. I used plain grated, unsweetened dried coconut for this dish. I have the fresh at my disposal but I wanted to make sure the recipe could work for people who might have access only to the dried coconut found in most markets. Everything else in the dish is readily available with the exception of the fresh curry leaves and if you don't have those, just leave them out as there is no substitute.

So grab yourself some fresh firm meaty fish (I used cod but snapper, hake, pollack etc will do just fine) and get your curry on. The other great thing about this recipe? It's ready in under an hour which makes it a perfect lunch dish for our writing week.

South Indian Dry Fish Curry

Here's What You Need:

The Paste:
1 and 1/4 lbs of firm fleshed white fish (I used cod in this dish)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 fresh tomato chopped
1 Tbs whole balck p[eppercorns
6 dried red chilies
1 and 1/2 tsp of salt
3/4 cup plus 1/8 cup of grated dried unsweetened coconut

The Fish:
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal (if you don't have it leave it out)
2 tsp turmeric
2/3 cup of water
A handful of fresh curry leaves
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Here's What To Do:

Put all the paste ingredients in the bowl of a food processor...

...and grind them up.

Cut the fish into cubes.

Get your urad dal (if you have it) mustard seeds and turmeric together.

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet or kadhai.
When the oil is hot add in the urad dal and mustard seeds.
When they strt to sizzle and pop, add in the Paste...

...and turmeric.

Cook everything for about 3 minutes until it turns fragrant then add the water.

Bring the water to a boil, and when it's boiling add in the fish.

Cook everything for 5 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.
Shake the pan every now and then to cook things evenly. Be certain nothing is sticking and burning.
Then add the curry leaves if using them...

...and the cilantro...

...and you are done! I prepared some basmati rice cooked with cashews, sultanas, cinnamon, and saffron. I served the fish curry on top of that.

You can also serve this with chapattis, or any green vegetable dish.

This cooks up really quickly which makes it a perfect weekday meal, but it also looks pretty cool which makes it company-worthy if you add a bunch of other Indian dishes to go along. I love an entree that takes less than and hour especially during these super-hot summer months!!!

So there you have it. A simple, easy fish curry.
Coming up next by request a White Peach Lavender Frangpane Tart that happens to be #glutenfree.

Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Eggplant and Coconut, A Simple Vegetarian Biryani.

   Alan has gone mainly vegetarian in his diet with the exception of some pescetarian choices so I've used this change of food policy around the house to move things more in the direction of how I eat. This has enabled me to take full advantage of all the goodies I'm growing in our garden. I love the idea that I can go out pick, and cook a lot of what we eat everyday. This has brought me back to nearly daily Indian dishes. Fish or even meat if served,  is not the star but rather a side player. A little bit  goes a long way.
   Since  we have always worked out of our home office, I like things that I can make ahead or that come together easy depending on what's available in the garden on any given day, which brings me to eggplants. Every year we grow a variety of eggplants from the large classic Italian, to Japanese, to the tiny Thai, and Indian finger eggplants. I thought a nice vegetarian biryani would be good so I looked to a traditional Kerala recipe of eggplant and coconut biryani or layered rice as it's is sometimes called.
Looking in the garden I thought my eggplants might not be ready yet so a trip to the farmers market might be needed, but I took a look and whoa!!! Eggplants had arrived!!!

I cut three Japanese eggplants of a pretty good size...

 ...some chilies, and mint.

 I wanted tomatoes but mine have not ripened yet. It's been a relatively cool Summer for us this year so all the vegetables are behind schedule. I had most of the basics for the dish so the shopping and prep was pretty easy.

Eggplant and Coconut Biryani

Here's What You Need:

2 or 3 Japanese Eggplants cut lengthwise and into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cups of coconut milk (full fat)
1 and 1/4 cups of Basmati rice
1/2 cup of grated unsweetened coconut fresh or dried
1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen)
1 and 3/4 cups of water
5 thin round slices of ginger
1 onion chopped roughly
1 large shallot peeled and sliced thinly
1 to 3 chopped green serrano chilies (with seeds) depending on how hot you want this.
2  dried red chilies broken into pieces
1 large tomato chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 and 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbs lemon juice
# ztbs vegetable oil

Here's What To Do:

Rinse the Basmati rice and place it in 1 and 1/4 cup s of water to soak for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put the coconut in a cast iron pan along with the dried red chilies and dry roast them until they are slightly golden. This takes just a couple of minutes so keep an eye out.

Take the toasted coconut and red chilies, and cool them a bit.
Slice the eggplants in half the long way and chunk them up into 1 inch pieces.

Place  the chopped serrano chilies, ginger slices, sliced shallot, and onion  in a food processor or blender.

Add the toasted coconut and dried red chilies...

,,,and grind into a paste.

Than add in the coriander, garam masala...

...and turmeric.

Blend again then put everything in a large skillet or kadhai along with 2 Tbs of vegetable oil and stir over medium heat until it colors. This takes about 5 minutes.

Add in the eggplants, half the salt...

...and 1/2 cup of the coconut milk.

Stir everything around.

Turn the heat up to high for about 3 minutes, then turn down to medium.
Cover the pan and cook until the eggplants have softened about 15 to 20 minutes.
Check in on things every now and then to make sure nothing is burning or sticking.
When the eggplants are soft move them to a bowl and set them aside.

In a large pot add 1 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the poil is hot add in the tomato... and cilantro.

Cook and stir until most of the moisture from the tomato has evaporated.
Now, add the rice and the water it was soaking in...

...along with the rest of the salt, and the rest of the coconut milk.

Bring to  a boil over high heat than slap a cover on the pot and turn the heat way down to the lowest setting for about 10 minutes. We are not going to cook the rice all the way through as it is going to finish in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and lightly grease an oven-proof dish. I usually use a clay pot but I used a pyrex casserole dish this time to get a good view of the biryani.

After the rice is cooked partly through (about 10 minutes) place half the semi cooked rice in the casserole dish.

Layer the defrosted or fresh peas on top of the rice.

Then add the eggplant mixture you've set aside. Layer the peas and eggplant together and mix them a bit.

Add the rest of the rice on top of that.

Then squeeze 3 Tbs of lemon juice over it all.

Cover the dish and place it in the oven.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes.
Take the dish out and uncover it.
Sprinkle the top with a dash more garam masala, and a sprinkling of more chopped cilantro and mint.

Then  dish it out. See the layers?

I served mine in clay mini biryani pots, with a bit of cooling  cumin raita and some flatbread.

Chapatti would be great with it also.

There it is a simple vegetarian lunch right out of the garden. This can  be made ahead and reheated later, or the next day.  Mellowing only makes it better. This recipe will feed between 4 and 6 people.




Sunday, June 24, 2018

Perfect for Meatless Monday: Masoor Dal With Vegetables.

   I haven't posted in a while, mainly because we were busy with work, and when not busy with work were consumed with all that is going on out in the world and somehow, recipes and food and cooking just didn't seem to fit in. I have been cooking a lot, I just haven't been writing or taking pictures of what I've been doing. I've also been busy easing Alan into eating more like me. Lots of vegetables, rice, dal, occasionally fish, no meat. So, one of the first things I served him was a dish I hadn't made in quite a while a hearty, meaty, meatless Indian classic dal recipe Masoor Dal with Yellow Squash. If you've never mad e Indian food before, this is a very simple thing to whip up and though I chose yellow squash, one can substitute any vegetable one might like, eggplant, onion, mushrooms, zucchini, potato. You get it, the sky's the limit.

Masoor dal  is the tiny salmon colored dal, that turns yellow when cooked . It's available at most markets.

The other ingredients are easy to find. The dish serves 6 to 8 people, can be made ahead, is a great go-along with Basmati rice for a filling meal, plus it's cheaper than dirt. What's not to like?

Masoor Dal With Squash


Here's What You Need:


2 cups masoor dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp salt
2 medium sized crooked neck yellow squash, washed and cut into rounds.
4 Tbs tamarind paste (or sub out lemon juice)
1/2 tsp sugar
3 Tbs vegetable oil or ghee
10 whoile black pepercorns
1/2 ttsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
10 fenugreek seeds
10 white urad dal pieces (optional)
1-3 whole small dried red peppers

Here's What To Do:


Wash and rinse dal
Place the dal in a pot with 6 cups of water.

Bring the water to a boil. If any dal scum boils up scrape it off with a slotted spoon, and discard it.

Add in the turmeric ...

...and cilantro.

Put a cover on the  pot and lower the heat.
Simmer the dal gently for about 1 and 1/2 hours.
Check it every half hour or so and give it a good stir.
When the dal is all cooked and tender add in the salt...

...the squash...

...the tamarind paste or lemon juice, and sugar.
cook another 15 minutes or until the vegetable is tender.

Now for the chaunk...the finishing touch of spice.
in a small skillet heat the 3 Tbs of oil. When the oil is hot add in peppercorns, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and urad dal if you are using it.

Finally add in the red peppers.

When the the cumin, fengreek seeds, and red peppers start to darken, and the mustard seeds pop, pour the contents of the skillet into the pot of dal. Stir the chaunk into the dal, cover the pot again and turn off the heat. You are ready to dish it up!

Sprinkle a bit more cilantro over the top and you are good to go. Lunch on the deck is served.

   This is a very mild dal and perfect for Meatless Monday meals. I serve it with rice, but if you eat meat it's still a good partner for anything on the table. Coming up next more Indian veg dishes and even some pastas and pizzas. Follow along on Twitter  @kathygori  


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